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Publisher's Summary

Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.
Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties.
Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and - after his murder - three more with his Antony. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.
Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra's supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost.
In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff 's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.
©2010 Stacy Schiff (P)2010 Hachette Audio
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Critic Reviews

"An epic subject requires a writer of epic skill and scope, and we have a perfect pairing in Cleopatra and Stacy Schiff. Absorbing and illuminating, this new biography will endure." (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion)
"A Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer presents a swift, sympathetic life of one of history's most maligned and legendary women.... Successfully dissipating all the perfume, Schiff finds a remarkably complex woman - brutal and loving, dependent and independent, immensely strong but finally vulnerable." ( Kirkus)
"Captivating...Ms. Schiff strips away the accretions of myth that have built up around the Egyptian queen and plucks off the imaginative embroiderings of Shakespeare, Shaw and Elizabeth Taylor. In doing so, she gives us a cinematic portrait of a historical figure far more complex and compelling than any fictional creation, and a wide, panning, panoramic picture of her world." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Shaun on 04-21-11

A pretty good listen.

For someone who reads a lot of ancient history, and is deeply interested in the Hellenistic era...added to the fact that I was looking for newer material...this was the first audio book I listened to upon creating my account. I enjoyed it...the narration is good, and Schiff does an amazing job with breathing new life into Cleopatra and her era. As for Schiff's narrative, it is excellent, and I don't think many of the inferences she has to make are that over the top. Her great retelling of the Alexandrian War that first brought Caesar to Egypt and Cleopatra to power was a great, fresh take on an event that isn't talked about much in many books despite its importance.

That said, this book might be a bit misleading...I'm not sure I would recommend it to casual readers/listeners. Despite the subject matter that appeals to average readers (many people know a little about this story) and the slick cover that looks like it is meant to draw women readers in.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Joshua on 10-16-13

Not "just" a Biography!

This book is no mere biography of Cleopatra's life. The author paints a vivid portrait of the end of the Hellenistic Period. For to understand Cleopatra's life you need to understand the places she went, the people she knew, and the times she inhabited; Cleopatra was as much a product of her times as the times were a product of her life. Stacy Shift interweaves fact with narrative flawlessly and engages the reader with such rich language that at moments I forgot I was reading non-fiction. Robin Miles narration is both relaxing yet filled with passion. This was my second time listening to the book and I will most likely be listening a third time in the near future! It is simply that fabulous!

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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